As the L.A. City Council was expected today to take up a referendum that seeks to overturn its marijuana dispensary ban, federal authorities might be preparing to wipe out the city's notorious pot shop scene altogether. You heard that right.
Last week federal authorities targeted for closure all the dispensaries in downtown Los Angeles and Eagle Rock, even as the city has been grappling with its own ban. The feds are now going citywide:
The Daily Journal's Ben Adlin this week reported (subscription only) that federal authorities want to go all the way with this pot shop eradication.
Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in California's Central District, which includes L.A., told the Journal:
Our stated goal has been to have all illegal marijuana stores closed, and we have been working toward that goal across our district.
Eek. Any medicinal purveyors feel a little shrinkage in the crotch just a little?
Even one of L.A.'s biggest pot-shop advocates, Don Duncan of Americans for Safe Access, tells the paper that this crackdown could be for real:
... I think we are seeing the beginning of a serious wave of enforcement.
Despite the infighting in L.A. and across the state over the fine print in California's medical marijuana law, the federal government does not recognize pot as good for anything.
And so last fall the U.S. Attorneys in California announced a crackdown, with shops in the Bay Area feeling the federal pain first.
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Now, it seems, it's L.A.'s turn.
A recent UCLA study put L.A.'s number of cannabis retailers at 472, while city officials have said it's more like 1,046. (Given the come-and-go, pop-up nature of many shops, we tend to believe a higher number than what UCLA came up with, particularly in an environment where city regulation has been in flux).
The big question is whether federal law enforcement officials have the resources to go after so many marijuana outlets in town.